It's Monday Morning
Dirt under my fingernails
Even though I live only 20 minutes from the Gunks, I still live for weekends. Yes, I'm close enough that I can often get out for a climb or two after work when the days start getting longer. But the weekend days are a still sacred.Weekend was well spent
Climbing after work involves rushing home to change and grab some food and my gear. Then rushing to the crag, speed hiking into the climbing area, and usually only getting to the Uberfall to run up some top-ropes to fit in as much climbing as possible before dark. Rush, rush, rush. Multipitch climbs, climbs at the end of the cliff, all waste precious time on belaying and scouting instead of doing what you came to do: climb.
On the weekends, none of that matters though, when time is more "easy come, easy go." For instance, yesterday while climbing, my partner and I 'wasted' at least two hours hiking down to the end of the Trapps and then trashing around in the brush looking for the start of a climb. On a weeknight, this might have meant that no actual climbing got done. On a weekend though, we simply shared a laugh over our little misadventure. And as it turns out, that misadventure, even though it didn't result in any actual climbing, gave me the biggest lesson of the weekend.
At one point as we were thrashing around in the woods, I apologized to my partner. The route had been my suggestion and I felt as the 'local' it was my duty to lead him to it. Since he drives 2+ hours one way to come climbing in the Gunks, I felt terrible for wasting his time and his climbing day. Luckily my climbing partner is a pretty mellow fellow and his reply changed the tone of the rest of the day for me: "It beats a day at work."
Until that point, I had been quitely stressing about the number of people at the cliff and how best to avoid them to get as much climbing time in as possible. I also still had last weekend's unfortunate tradegy rolling around in the back of my head, causing me to second guess myself in all safety matters, even though every anchor I built yesterday could hold a truck off the ground.
But his nonchalant reply was a turning point. It reminded me to relax, to enjoy the simple fact that I was outside, in the sun and the fresh air and not in a stuffy office growing pasty under flourescent lights. (Don't get me wrong, I am very fortunate to have work that I am very good at and that I find very rewarding, but in every job there is a little bit of tedium and stress- that's what makes it work!) It also reminded me how lucky I am to get to climb and to live so near climbing. In a world where so many people struggle just to survive a day, we truly are privleged to get to spend our free time and disposable income engaged in an activity that makes survival a sport. So even though we didn't do anything hard or particularly challenging and even though I didn't rack up a big mental success like pulling off a hard lead, onsight, etc., it was a perfectly fulfilling day because I learned to slow down and enjoy just being able to spend my weekend climbing. And the dirt under my fingernails this morning is my little reminder of that lesson as I head for another day at work.